Beijing angry US firmly supports Taiwan after election

Beijing angry: US “firmly” supports Taiwan after election

In a meeting with Taiwan's current president, Tsai Ing-wen, former US national security adviser Stephen Hadley praised the self-governing island's democracy as a “shining example for the world.” Hadley said “the American commitment to Taiwan is rock solid.” Former Assistant Secretary of State James Steinberg said the delegation traveled to Taiwan to “highlight U.S. bipartisan support for our long-standing friendship with Taiwan.”

During Tsai's eight years in office, Taiwan strengthened its ties with its democratic partners, especially the United States. Despite the severing of official diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1979, the United States remains the island's main diplomatic ally and supplier of military equipment and intelligence.

Lai committed to continuity

Lai Ching-te, the winner of Saturday's presidential election, has vowed to continue Tsai's policies. The US delegation also met with him and his vice president-elect, Hsiao Bi-khim, who was once Taiwan's top envoy to the US, on Monday. “I am confident that as we work together, our relationship will continue to develop and become an important force in upholding peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region,” Lai said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken

AP/Evelyn Hockstein US Secretary of State Antony Blinken congratulated Taiwan – thus angering Beijing

Blinken despises Beijing

The visit came after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday congratulated Lai on his election victory and congratulated the people of Taiwan for “once again demonstrating the strength of their robust democratic system and electoral process.” The statement provoked an angry response from Beijing, which views Taiwan as its own territory.

On Sunday, China's Foreign Ministry said the statement “seriously violates the one-China principle” and that the US promises to maintain only cultural, commercial and other unofficial relations with Taiwan. “It also sends completely the wrong signal to separatist forces advocating Taiwanese independence. We deeply regret this and strongly reject it, and have made serious representations to the US side,” the ministry said.

Celebrating Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters in Taipei

Portal/Ann Wang Joy on DPP election victory: The idea of ​​“reunification” with China is extremely unpopular on the island

New expressions of discontent are expected from Beijing, but, according to experts, the strongest signal will only arrive in May, when Lai formally takes office. It could be military exercises around the island, restrictions on imports from Taiwan – or both. There are examples from the past, for example when then-Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi paid a visit to Taiwan in 2022. China responded by holding large-scale exercises and sending fighter jets and warships to remind people of threat of invasion.

China's aggressiveness has decreased

China prefers “peaceful reunification”. But this is looking increasingly unlikely: 90% of Taiwan's population supports maintaining the status quo, meaning the island will not declare independence but also will not join China. The restrictions on democracy and freedoms that China imposed following mass protests in Hong Kong in 2019 serve as a chilling example.

But China's desire to intervene effectively in Taiwan is currently tempered by two considerations. On the one hand, Beijing wants to stabilize its relationship with the USA – especially since the election year there brings with it many uncertainties. On the other hand, China faces internal problems, especially the weakening of the economy. Therefore, the saber rattling will continue, but the real consequences are not expected for now after the election results, which was unpleasant for China.